Monday, August 11, 2008

Review -- E.S.L. -- Eye Contact

Jericho Beach Music
When you read a band bio that has influences listed as ranging from Polish cabaret to Neil Young, the Beastie Boys and Velvet Underground, you kind of figure you're in for something a little out of the ordinary, and in the case of E.S.L. you would be right.This Vancouver based band is certainly cutting their own musical path in the wilderness, and the result is rather hard to classify, although overall the CD Eye Contact is rather compelling.To begin with when you see a band that has pop leanings, it's rather intriguing to see a instrument mix as classically oriented as E.S.L. does. The band includes wonderful cello work by Cris Derksen. It is the cello on cuts such as Side By Side which truly set this CD apart. Huge credit to the band for having the foresight to use an instrument usually reserved for classical music is a more modern musical setting.Derksen's cello is complimented by violinist Diona Davies, drummer Joy Mullen and Marta Jacubek-McKeever on piano and vocals. Jacubek-McKeever is another reason E.S.L. stands apart from the crowd. This gal not only plays an accomplished piano, but her vocal style is one which will stick with the listener.The band also draws on a number of cultural experiences in their music. Princess Vs.Dragon has an Old World, Eastern Europe feel, while the Neil Young piece Like A Hurricane has an Aboriginal undertone. The latter features Duffy Driedger on vocals, and his male presence adds a nice break to the work of the all female quartet.This work is one which has indie pop arrangements, folk/roots lyrics and classical instrumentation, and while it might seem like a stretch to bring such diverse elements together, E.S.L. manages it smoothly.This is certainly one to watch for simply to enjoy the unique effort. Well done. Check them out at

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Aug. 6, 2008 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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